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5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Build Trust With Their Teams

“Trust me.”

As an entrepreneur, you want your team to be all in whenever you need their trust and support. But it’s not always as easy as saying “trust me.” (Anyone else's brain immediately go to Bank of Nikolai when someone says it?)

So if you want your team’s trust, you’ll have to earn it. Here are five ways:

Share Openly

How much do your employees know about what’s going on in your company?

You probably already share successes with your team. When things are going well, everyone wants to celebrate.

But sharing information about hurdles (and even crises) the company faces can also build trust. Letting your people know that you are aware of a problem and taking steps to address it gives them confidence in you as a leader. In addition, this kind of communication gives you an opportunity to involve employees in problem-solving.

The more your employees know about what’s going on and why you make the decisions you make, the more secure they feel trusting you with their careers.

Offer Positive Feedback

How do your employees know if their work is making a difference? For that matter, how do they know if they are doing a good job?

Too often, feedback for employees is limited to annual reviews. But a year is a long time to wait. What if you made a point to offer positive feedback to employees who are crushing it whenever it happens?

To consider:

  • Thank people in person, in an email, or even in a Slack message when they help you out.
  • Encourage your team to do the same for one another.
  • Call out really great work in front of everyone, in a company newsletter or town hall meeting.

Offering positive feedback lets employees know you notice and appreciate them. Just knowing you noticed can motivate someone to do more great work.

Ask for Feedback

How can you get useful feedback from your team?

Ask for it.

As the leader of your company, it can be easy to forget that other team members, especially junior ones, may be intimidated by your authority. And yet, any of your employees may have a brilliant idea that could transform your company.

Make sure you give them opportunities to share those ideas. Try:

  • An anonymous employee survey to gather feedback on a specific topic or issue you’re working through.
  • Brainstorming via collaborative documents (like Google Docs), a chat channel, or a meeting, where everyone is welcome to contribute, and all ideas are welcome.
  • An open-door policy, so that any employee can approach you privately with an idea or concern. Be sure to listen with an open mind.

When you’re unable to implement a suggestion, explain clearly, but not dismissively, the reasons behind your decision. You can help build your employee’s understanding of the business and develop a rapport at the same time.

Foster Their Careers

You may have spent some time as part of a traditional corporate structure before striking out as an entrepreneur. Do you remember ever feeling pigeonholed or stuck in a role with no growth potential? Don’t put your employees through that. Instead:

  • Provide whatever training you can. Even if it’s just some time to pursue free online courses, helping employees get better at their jobs is good for you and good for them, and lets them know that you believe in their potential.
  • Promote from within. When a position opens, consider your current employees for the role first. It won’t always be possible, but when it is, an internal promotion may raise the morale of your whole team.

If you look out for your team’s careers, they are likely to feel more appreciated and to develop more loyalty to you and your company.

Show That You Trust Them

Want your employees to trust you? Guess what: they want you to trust them, too.

Create mutual trust by offering your team opportunities to be trustworthy:

  • Avoid micromanagement. While your vision will always be an integral part of your company, try offering all the information you can at the start of a project, and then let your team run with it.
  • Get rid of the timesheet — especially for creative workers. Make expectations and deadlines clear, and then let people work. For remote companies, this can be especially effective, as creative workers need mental breaks to keep producing great ideas.

If you get into these five habits, you will build trust with your team and create a strong, connected company culture based on that trust.

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